Originally published on InsideRetail.com.au
“We need a type of theatre which not only releases the feelings, insights and impulses possible within the particular historical field of human relations in which the action takes place, but employs and encourages those thoughts and feelings which help transform the field itself.” – BERTOLT BRECHT
Many years ago, I worked with a retail entrepreneur who always said that our shops are like theatre and each morning, when the curtains lift, it’s “show time”. While fit retailers recognise this is true all year round; when it comes to Christmas, you need to stage your greatest show of the year.
Playwright, Tom Stoppard once said in an interview, “I think theatre ought to be theatrical … you know, shuffling the pack in different ways so that there’s always some kind of ambush involved in the experience. You’re being ambushed by an unexpected word, or by an elephant falling out of the cupboard, whatever it is.”
And this is true of retail theatre. The unexpected, the surprise and delight, the unmissable. Whether it’s the window display or inside your retail store; plan to create something truly remarkable that customers simply cannot walk past.
Before we give you some key fitness tips to creating and staging the greatest show, have a think about how you will connect with your audience. One of the greatest mistakes we see many retailers make is to start with their products, when Christmas is unquestionably all about solving their customers’ needs.
In a Harvard Business Review article, Ron Johnson CEO of J C Penney commented on the existence of the physical store space saying: “It’s got to help people enrich their lives. If the store fulfils a specific product need, it’s not creating new types of value for the customer. It’s transacting.” So just how do you create value throughout your customers’ entire shopping missions?
• Separate “selling” from “customer service”. Every customer that comes into your store at Christmas has a gift problem to solve. The greatest asset your sales staff can have is to be strong active listeners and possess a genuine interest in the customer by being totally solution-focussed.
• Walk through the store from a customer viewpoint. How can they navigate to products that will solve their problems? When they look up and see the entire store – how easy is it for them to find a gift solution? Separate your merchandise into solutions: gifts for him, gifts for her, top 10 most sought after gifts this Christmas, staff Christmas picks, stocking fillers, hard to buy for Dads, and so on.
• Staff product training and the ability to demonstrate them is everything.
• Make life exceedingly easy for your customers. Offer gift wrapping or a click and collect gift wrapped option if they’re ordering online.
Top 7 Tips to Staging Your Show
Have a think about these business fitness tips for your Christmas show:
• The window and merchandise displays you create must be the expression of your unique business. Take a strong stand and challenge yourself to express it, whilst remaining true to your brand.
• Contradict the assumptions of the audience. Draw them to the theatre with something that will attract them, but then, once they are drawn to your shop window, challenge them and make them think and feel.
• Make sure the show (display) is an unreproducible event – this is what people have come to see and your loyalists will return to see the next production.
• Include a surprise… the elephant falling out of the cupboard. No one should be able to know what’s coming next, including the performers. Surprise keeps theatre a live event.
• Change the material world. Keep your merchandising fresh and exciting for your customers and they will keep coming back for more. Make it clear when new lines and items are in store by promoting them in your window.
• Give the audience a ritual or repetitive pattern with which to identify. Create a shared history for the audience. Once a ritual is established, you can speak volumes through tiny variations on a theme. The art is in the details.
• Break the rules. Don’t do what anybody tells you. Make your own theatre, find your own way. Build impressive displays from the customer perspective that entertains and inspires, (form) not from the traditional product assembly (function).
Top 5 Tips for Behind-the-Scenes
1. Stock up before and after store trading hours.
2. Organise your store room and your inventory.
3. Do the early morning opening tasks and visual merchandising the night before.
4. Be first to open and last to close.
5. Be on sale even when the store is closed through your website.
Above all – have fun!
Happy Fit Christmas Retailing!
You can find out more about Retail Doctor Group at retaildoctor.com.au
Book now to see Brian Walker at Fashion Exposed Business Seminar Series
Brian Walker, Founder & CEO of the Retail Doctor Group will join Katharina Kuehn (Director of RDG Insights) at Fashion Exposed in February to present `Bringing retail insights to life in store’.
In this engaging and informative session, Brian and Katharina will take you through how to use consumer insights to ultimately drive increased sales in your retail business.
- Understanding your customers at a deeper level
- Translating insights into a targeted brand strategy
- Implementing solutions to make your business ‘fitter’
- Operational ‘fitness’ tips that will build retail sales
Get a greater understanding of your customers, develop a more targeted strategy and ultimately walk away with a healthier business approach.
For more information or to book, visit fashionexposed.com